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Preview: Hornets try to take the season series from the Pacers

The Hornets eked out wins in the first two meetings. They’ll try to make it three in a row tonight.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets (18-17) at Indiana Pacers (14-20)

When: 7:00 pm EST

Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse; Indianapolis, IN

How to watch: Bally Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass

The Hornets and Pacers have not played a normal game this season. On opening night, the Hornets rallied from a 23-point deficit in the second half to eke out a one point win. In the second meeting, the Hornets flipped the script and held a commanding lead over the Pacers for most of the game, but they watched a 12-point lead with about 90 seconds to play completely evaporate thanks to some heroics from Jeremy Lamb. Despite the drama, the Hornets won that game as well though.

Neither team will be at full strength for the contest. The Hornets will still be without Miles Bridges and PJ Washington due to health and safety protocols. The Pacers are without TJ McConnell, who is out with the foreseeable future with a wrist injury. Malcolm Brogdon is questionable for the game because of a nagging achilles issue, but it he’s been struggling to get on the floor in recent games because of it. If he does play, it likely won’t be at 100%.

The Pacers come into tonight’s game having alternated wins and losses in their last five. The three losses are on the road to playoff teams, and the two wins are at home against the Pistons and Rockets.

Caris LeVert has done most of the heavy lifting for the Pacers with Brogdon ailing. Over the last five, he’s led the team with 23.0 points and 6.4 assists per game. Myles Turner and Chris Duarte have chipped in as well, while Domantas Sabonis continues to be curiously underutilized as a finisher (though he’s still be very good as a passer and rebounder).

The Pacers have been solid at home this season, but it’s hard to see them generating consistent offense without TJ McConnell and Malcolm Brogdon. The offense is going to have to be run through LeVert and Sabonis. LeVert is more of a score first player, which isn’t ideal when trying to move a cohesive offense. Sabonis can facilitate, but there’s a limit to how much an offense can be run of the post.

The Hornets have a good chance to make it two in a row before they get another three days off to prepare for a visit from the red hot Suns after the new year.